This time of year is one where we are all supposed to be cheerful. Today I’m definitely not. Saying goodbye is never easy, as expats we become experts at it. Each new friendship comes with the knowledge that eventually one of you will be leaving and heading for new experiences. But some goodbyes are harder than others.
Every 6 weeks I say goodbye to my soul mate as he heads off to work. Expat lives involve compromises all the time. It could your career, location or child’s education. For us it’s 6 weeks apart to have 6 weeks together. I know he’ll be back in late January. The date is already marked on the calendar for 2016. I know that I’ll be back at the other end of the airport in 43 days time. But that doesn’t make it any easier. In fact it seems to be getting harder.
Maybe it’s just the season? Maybe it’s because he never seems to get Christmas off? We’ve had one Christmas off together in the last 10 years. I still remember the snow in North Yorkshire that greeted us. This year once more I’ll be on our island home with the animals, and he’ll be in another time zone.
To bring a little Christmas cheer we put up a few decorations and had a couple of afternoons watching movies and eating chocolate from back home. He’s taken lots of supplies to make the day as festive as possible in Africa. I’ve hidden a tearfully written Christmas card in one of his bags. He’s hidden a present for me in the house. I’ll spend Christmas day with my parents in the next village. Returning to our home before dark with treats for the animals.
As I write this morning even the weather on the island has joined in my mood. It’s grey, raining and there’s thunder in the distance. I know that the gloom will last a couple of weeks as I get used to him being away again. Soon to be replaced by excitement as I anticipate his return.
It makes it difficult to be seasonally cheerful around everyone else. My cure will be a day with girlfriends tomorrow, with a little pampering and some homemade mince pies. Then an afternoon curled up on the sofa with a Christmas movie, a cat on my lap and a fire going.
My husbands’ journey to work involves a drive to the airport and then 3 flights. The first flight is already over, he’s in Athens and will be boarding soon for the next leg to Istanbul. It’s not just the saying goodbye, there’s also the waiting. It will be close midnight tonight when I’ll hear that he’s arrived safely.
Do you have a partner away this Christmas? How do you both cope with the constant goodbyes?